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Under Wisconsin Supreme Court rules, records of small claims cases — which include evictions — are kept for 20 years. 

Dismissed small claims cases, however, are removed from the Wisconsin Circuit Court Access website after two years. 

Legal Action of Wisconsin, a nonprofit law firm representing low-income renters, asked the Supreme Court in March to shorten the time frame for retaining most evictions to one year. It also requested courts apply the 20-year retention standard only to evictions that required a renter to pay money back to a landlord. The law firm notes there are “prolonged and pervasive racial disparities in the rental housing market in Wisconsin.”

The director of state courts rejected a similar petition because it would be too burdensome to implement, the Cap Times reported.

The Wisconsin Apartment Association supports reducing the period to “a few years,” according to FOX6 News.


Wisconsin Courts: Retention and Maintenance of Court Records

Wisconsin Courts: Wisconsin Circuit Court Access

State of Wisconsin: Relating to retention of records in eviction cases

Wisconsin Courts: Pending petitions

The Cap Times: Law firm asks Wisconsin Supreme Court to reconsider eviction records

FOX6 News Milwaukee | Wisconsin & Local Milwaukee News WITI: Wisconsin tenant eviction records: How long should they be retained?

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Hope Karnopp joined Wisconsin Watch as a reporting intern in May 2022. She is a journalism major and is pursuing certificates in public policy and environmental studies at UW-Madison. Hope previously covered state politics as an intern for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. She also works with the Daily Cardinal and hosts a radio segment about campus news for WORT-FM, which has been recognized by the Milwaukee Press Club.